No this is not about a $15 minimum wage or the COLA adjustment to my husband’s pension. It is just where my mind went today. Last night I found myself complaining to my husband about the cost of a new medication that I now must take as a result of cancer treatment. After insurance, my cost is $625 for a 90-day supply. That is the most expensive medication I have ever had. Even so, I realize it is not that expensive when compared to the cost of other medications – medications that are so often what keep our senior citizens and others who are living on a fixed income alive. Sometimes doctors can make adjustments to find something that more easily fits into our budgets and sometimes not. In my case, it is a not. I just have to bite the bullet and chalk it up to “the cost of living.”
As I replayed last night’s complaint session in my head today while I am also contemplating Palm Sunday and what Jesus experienced during Holy Week, I realized what the cost of living really means. It is not the cost of the medications or the house or the food or the car in our driveway. It is something much more precious. So precious that no price could be placed upon it. It is life, itself – specifically the life of Jesus Christ.
We know the story. Almighty God put on flesh and entered the human world in the form of a helpless baby, born to a teenaged mother and a poor carpenter. We don’t know many of the details of His growing up years except for the one time that He was left behind as the family traveled home from the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. He grew up, was baptized, started a ministry that became the church, was crucified, and rose again.
For me it is the crucified part that really gets to the cost of living. In the gospel of Luke 12:20-33, some Greeks (maybe Gentiles, maybe Jews living in the diaspora – commentators don’t agree on this point) want to see Jesus. When the request is relayed to Him, He begins to talk about His impending death. The crowds, who just moments before were shouting “Hosanna,” began turning on Jesus. The talk of death was confusing and not what they wanted to hear. In his book What Makes a Hero?: The Death-Defying Ministry of Jesus Christ, Matt Rawle says, “The crowd quickly turned on Jesus, because he did not fit their definition of Messiah. Jesus did not deliver on the promises they thought he should have kept. They wanted Jesus to fit their own ideas. Jesus was supposed to be king, kick Rome out, and establish an earthly kingdom. Instead he got arrested, beaten, and mocked. So the crowd turned away.”
We know the rest of the story that was unknown to the crowd at that time. We know that Jesus was resurrected and still lives today. That is the whole premise of Easter. It is why we celebrate. Yet in celebrating, I can’t help but ask, “where are we today?” Are we part of the crowd that shouts ‘Hosanna’ one day and ‘Crucify Him’ the next when we don’t get our way? Do we get angry when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want God to? Do we sulk and turn our backs when God’s kingdom doesn’t meet our expectations? If we are then I think we are like the crowds in Jerusalem. We are relying on Jesus to make everything better instead of heeding His teaching to make everything better because we rely on Jesus.
Jesus knows our hearts. He chose the path that would take him from an arrest, through the painfully brutal beatings, to a gruesome death on the cross, and out the other side of the valley of death. Jesus knew that life only comes out of His death – death that brings love, grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Because He chose it, we are worth so much more than what our bank balances show or what someone pays us. We are worth the life of Jesus Christ.
So the next time you are complaining about the cost of something, think about what Jesus did for you. That is the true cost of living, and you are worth every penny!